Safety and feasibility of femoral catheters during physical rehabilitation in the intensive care unit

J Crit Care. 2013 Aug;28(4):535.e9-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2013.01.006. Epub 2013 Mar 15.


Objective: Femoral catheters pose a potential barrier to early rehabilitation in the intensive care unit (ICU) due to concerns, such as catheter removal, local trauma, bleeding, and infection. We prospectively evaluated the feasibility and safety of physical therapy (PT) in ICU patients with femoral catheters.

Design, setting, and patients: We evaluated consecutive medical ICU patients who received PT with a femoral venous, arterial, or hemodialysis catheter(s) in situ.

Measurements and main results: Of 1074 consecutive patients, 239 (22%) received a femoral catheter (81% venous, 29% arterial, 6% hemodialysis; some patients had >1 catheter). Of those, 101 (42%) received PT interventions, while the catheter was in situ, for a total of 253 sessions over 210 medical ICU (MICU) days. On these 210 MICU days, the highest daily activity level achieved was 49 (23%) standing or walking, 57 (27%) sitting, 25 (12%) supine cycle ergometry, and 79 (38%) in-bed exercises. During 253 PT sessions, there were no catheter-related adverse events giving a 0% event rate (95% upper confidence limit of 2.1% for venous catheters).

Conclusions: Physical therapy interventions in MICU patients with in situ femoral catheters appear to be feasible and safe. The presence of a femoral catheter should not automatically restrict ICU patients to bed rest.

Keywords: Adults; Critical care; Early mobilization; Mechanical ventilation; Medical complications; Patient safety; Rehabilitation; Vascular access device.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / adverse effects*
  • Catheters, Indwelling*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Critical Care
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery
  • Femoral Vein
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric